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Forums Adobe After Effects 3D rotating product

  • 3D rotating product

  • Ceri Lines

    April 8, 2005 at 5:40 am


    I’m wondering about the best way to create an effect in AE, I’m sure you’ve all seen it before. It’s simply a product, such as a cell phone or digital camera, rotating in 3D space. I realize that the most practical way would probably be to use a detailed pre-rendered 3D model, but I don’t have the time nor the 3D skills to do that now. Also, in some of the intros I’ve seen (most notably, the Sanyo Xacti digital movie camera), I’m sure the product wasn’t a 3D model. It looked more like the real thing. Is there a tried and true method of achieving this effect that anyone knows of? The methods I thought of are:

    1) Suspending the product on wire and rotating it against a greenscreen
    2) Taking sequential stills from slightly different angles and patching them together

    I think the first one might produce unnatural, shaky results. Also it would be hard to get effects such as the flip-top on a cell phone opening and closing, or the swivel screen on a digital camera turning around, without physically touching it. I have tried the second method before and, although it works, I felt the results weren’t smooth enough for full-motion video.

    Anyone have any experience or ideas? Thanks in advance!

  • Steve Roberts

    April 8, 2005 at 6:19 am

    If you can get ahold of the turntables used by QTVR producers, that would be great, since they’re designed to be rotated in specific increments.

    If not, you could use a DJ’s turntable, and apply tape to the edge. Mark the tape in increments corresponding to the speed of your rotation. If you want the product to complete a rotation in one second, mark the increments every three degrees, or make 30 marks evenly spaced around the circumference of the turntable. I’d recommend doubling the number of marks in case you want to slow down the rotation, and/or apply the Twixtor plugin to slow it down even further.

    Next, you cover the turntable with bright green material (ideally, greenscreen material), then set up and shoot the product with a digital stills camera, carefully rotating the turntable so the marks line up with a rock-solid index pointer clamped to a static part of the turntable. Make sure everything is rock-solid, including the product.

    Once you’ve shot, you bring the stills into AE. If the camera numbered them in sequence, you just import the stills as a numbered sequence.

    Hope that helps,

  • Ceri Lines

    April 8, 2005 at 6:37 am

    Thanks very much for your helpful feedback. I hadn’t considered the turntable or marking incrementally… That’s the way to go, then, with sequential still photos?

  • Steve Roberts

    April 8, 2005 at 7:40 am

    Well, the resolution is higher if you need it for, uh, print, I suppose. 🙂 I haven’t done a test, but there’s probably more latitude in the high end of the stills curve compared to video. Also, you can effectively make the turntable run more slowly than its motor can, by increasing the number of marks and moving it incrementally. Also, still cameras are naturally progressive, not interlaced. If you shoot twice as many frames, you can render to interlaced in AE later if you need it.

    The advantages of video are that you can run the turntable at a constant speed, so it’s easier, and you’ll get motion blur.

    However, if you want to apply motion blur to the stills in AE, you can use Reelsmart Motion Blur.

    I’d probably go with the stills for precision.

    Check these links:

    Hope that helps,

  • Steve Roberts

    April 8, 2005 at 7:43 am

    Sorry … 30 marks, one every 12 degrees, not every three degrees. Yikes.


  • Ceri Lines

    April 8, 2005 at 8:15 am

    Great. Thanks a lot Steve for all your help. I’ll let you know how things turn (no pun intended) out!

  • Encheval

    April 8, 2005 at 8:21 am


    I use this regulary since i do, among others, commercials for cell ringtones.

    I generally use Invigorator, I’m given HiRes photos of the phone (FRONT/BACK/SIDES) to texture it. SOmetimes i’m use an Imported 3DS file, sometimes i must draw the shapes myself in Illustrator.

    I do the same for all simple saped objects (Ipod, CD’s, DVD’s, Books…etc)

    Filming an actual object is time consuming and very expensive.


  • Ceri Lines

    April 8, 2005 at 9:22 am


    Thanks for the feedback, Nico. You mean you don’t use the turntable method but instead paste high resolution photo textures onto 3D wireframes? What if your object has curved edges or a flip-lid or something? I’m just wondering how you would get around this issue, especially in a 2D program like Illustrator. Also, wouldn’t your photo/texture need to be “blown-out” to compensate for wrapping around a 3D wireframe? How would you capture such an image?

    I’m not familiar with Invigorator yet, does it accept Illustrator files and piece them together as a 3D object?

    Sorry for all the questions, I’m not criticizing your technique, I’m just curious about all my options. If you have any examples of your work online that you could point me to, I’d love to see them. Thanks!

  • Serge Hamad

    April 9, 2005 at 6:25 am


    This thread could be helpfull:

    Let us know if you need more help.


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